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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Alternate Defence Minister Panagiotis Rigas' interview on ERT

On Wednesday, 14 November 2018, the Alternate Minister of National Defence Panagiotis Rigas, in an interview he gave on the public television and to the journalists Marion Mihelidaki, Kostas Laskaratos and Nikos Mertzanis, stated the following:

Regarding the Turkish provocativeness:

Composure is necessary in these cases. With the policy that we exercise, we have achieved to be a pillar of stability despite the severe crisis our country has suffered with regard to the finances and the refugee issue.

The Armed Forces, which I am honoured and fortunate to command, in my capacity as politician, are a modern army, with strong, deterrent power. At the same time, we try to shape an environment of peaceful co-existence and exploitation of all the development capabilities by every party, in the wider area.

The Turkish side maintains a specific situation, either through its rhetoric or through the violations in the Aegean. We insist in believing that the existing problems cannot be solved in this way. All differences are solved through dialogue. This policy is deadlock. Our message is that there is no chance someone will ever consider threatening our sovereign rights. We fully defend them.

The meetings held by the Prime Minister with the President of Turkey will contribute to the situation. Some people asked us and still do, not to hold such meetings, but when differences exist, then it is necessary to hold meetings. It is for the benefit of the two countries not to have tension between them and not to waste their powers.

Regarding armaments:

Let us not adopt a rationale of armaments’ competition. There are many ways for the Armed Forces to be effective. What I am completely certain of and I can announce to the Greek people is that the Armed Forces are battle-worthy and have capabilities.

Regarding the relation with the Minister of National Defence:

From the time I was SYRIZA secretary, we have developed an honest relation with Panos Kammenos. We had a different political start, but I think that, since we have a common goal until the October elections, this relation will remain the same, as he himself also stated. He has stated that he will not participate in any no-confidence vote. This was an experiment in a crisis period, with regard to how different parties achieve to effectively manage the situation, in order to draw the country out of the deadlock.

Regarding the progressive pole:

Our perception, in view of the elections, is that a progressive axis must be shaped, with two basic elements: On one hand, to defend and reinforce democracy, which leads to the constitutional amendment, and on the other hand, to defend labour rights. KINAL and Mrs Gennimata do not comprehend what is going on right now; they do not even keep up with the social-democrats in Europe. The Prime Minister’s speech in the German SPD conference proved that a different progressive perspective is shaped in Europe. Everyone will be assessed under these criteria and future
co-operations will take place on the basis of programs’ convergence.